Madeleine Greenbriar has everything she ever dreamed of...and is about to screw it all up.
Five years after the war with the Dark, the Naturals — the order of demon hunting mages who protect the world — are busier than ever. Demons still prowl the earth, searching for a way to prolong their lives, and Madeleine is on the front lines risking everything to end the threat once and for all.
But when she runs afoul of a demon and risks exposing the supernatural world to humanity, her future is on the line. As punishment, she's transferred to the archaeological dig at Camelot.
Expecting a boring babysitting job, Madeleine is shocked when she lands in the middle of a secret so powerful, it might tear apart the entire world — again.
Can a moody goth girl hold it together long enough to stop another war erupting?
There's only one way to find out.
Demon Bound is the first novel in The Camelot Archive, an urban fantasy series set in the same alternate Arthurian world seen in The Arondight Codex. Demons, danger, and deadly romance await in this thrilling new twist on a familiar legend.
Release date: February 7, 2020
Print pages: 256
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Nicole R. Taylor
Madeleine Greenbriar, what have you gotten yourself into this time?
The lingering scent of sulphur tickled my nostrils as I walked down the dark street, the trail leading me towards Islington High Street.
Dammit, it was trying to hide.
I could hear the throb of heavy music before I turned the corner and my heart sank and rose, if such a thing was possible.
The line for the nightclub snaked down the block, humans dressed in their best outfits. Death-rockers, punks, and goths huddled in their cliques as they waited to get inside London’s longest running alternative venue, Adrenaline.
Mohawks, tattoos, and piercings were the flavour of the subculture, along with corsets, buckles, and elaborate hair extensions. There were a few futuristic looks—android-esque with plastic tubing hair and spiked welding goggles—and others wore more traditional goth attire made up of lace and velvet…and then there was me.
I had the all black thing down pat, but my profession demanded I paired the colour with tactical gear. Trousers with pockets, an arondight blade—a magical blade that retracted into its hilt—at my left hip, a cold iron dagger made from a meteorite on my right, and another in my combat boot. The rest of the uniform was a simple tight black T-shirt and a leather jacket. The last bit was an amendment on my part. My last shred off rebelliousness now that I was a full-fledged Natural warrior. At least my hair was naturally dark.
I scanned the crowd, my senses coming up blank. My target wasn’t out here.
I walked past the line of humans, my boots thudding against the uneven concrete. The security guards checking ID didn’t bother to lift their heads as I passed, but they wouldn’t have seen me even if they did. The first rule of patrolling was to remain concealed at all times.
I was a Natural—a demon-hunting mage—born to fight the Darkness from beyond the rift. Even though the rift was closed five years ago, it didn’t mean we ridded the world of the demons who sought to consume it. We’d gone from soldiers in a war to the cleanup crew. It wasn’t the kind of hero I wanted to be, but after I’d almost become a casualty of said war before I’d even graduated from the Academy, I supposed manning a mop wasn’t all that bad.
That’s how I found myself on the hunt at a goth club, of all places. I wasn’t supposed to be patrolling solo, but I’d ditched my partner hours ago, frustrated by the rules and regulations—and the distrustful glances she kept throwing at me. It was a recurring routine that pissed me off more than I should’ve allowed.
I worked better alone.
Inside, the venue was nothing more than a rundown warehouse of patched concrete. Four levels rose above me like a maze, full of clubbers and Light knew what else. Music vibrated through the structure, feeding into my heightened senses. I’d always wanted time off to go clubbing at the city’s premier alternative club, but there was never any rest for a Natural. This was as good as it was going to get.
Adrenaline was a place outsiders could come and express themselves without fear of being ridiculed, which was an admirable feat, but no one ever stopped to think about how the outsiders judged their own just as harshly. It was a human failing, despite striving for acceptance beyond the norm.
Then there was the other drawback of being different. Goths—more than any other human subculture—dabbled in demonic summoning the most. I didn’t know why humans would want to mess with the Dark, but I knew there were humans out there who thrived on shock value. Wearing a corset as an outer layer, shaving half your hair off and colouring it black and blue, wasn’t enough for some people.
Following the blip on my Light radar, I moved through the club, rising through the heaving mass of bodies. I passed a room playing traditional goth music and narrowed my eyes at the humans twisting their hands towards the ceiling, their long, lace sleeves trailing through the mist from a smoke machine. It was a dance dubbed ‘cobwebs in the ceiling’.
Snorting, I passed the door and kept climbing. It wasn’t until I reached the top that I stopped. The stench of demonic activity was potent—the putrid fart smell curling my nose. It was no wonder no one else seemed to notice it. The club was a melting pot of scents—stale beer, sweat, urinal cakes, the sickly aroma from the smoke machine, and the damp that always clung to old buildings like this one. No amount of pine disinfectant could cover all of that.
The bass of a heavy industrial song reverberated through the concrete floor, pulsing up my legs and into my body. The flashing lights cast an eerie glow over the goths dancing around me, their movements stuttering like an elaborate stop-motion animation.
It wasn’t hard to spot my target. It had leeched its Darkness all over the club like a putrid snail trail.
I watched the demon slide up against a woman in a sleek, black PVC corset. It’d inhabited a man’s body or had taken on the appearance of one. I wouldn’t know until I got closer.
It seemed the rarer cast of demons had fallen out of the woodwork since the rift had closed. The lesser, more rotting kind had fallen apart in the last few years and the big boys had come out to play in their frantic search for power. It meant demon hunting had become a wild new frontier.
They began to dance together, her hands snaking around his neck. If only she knew.
But I did, and it made watching its seduction even creeper knowing it was after her soul.
That’s when I realised it’d screwed me over.
The club was a tight space, every inch used to its full capacity. That meant there were no dark corners or storage closets to drag my prey inside. I couldn’t draw my arondight blade without hurting an innocent, and I couldn’t do an exorcism because its putrid demonic arse would just fly off into someone else. And then I’d have to repeat the whole ordeal over again…and I loathed repeating myself.
It was a fight that might end badly, no matter what I did. I risked exposure of our kind by confronting it here, or the soul of an innocent if I choose to stand down.
I sighed. I couldn’t walk away knowing I would damn her soul to complete erasure, despite her crimes to fashion.
The only way to end this was to wrestle the demon outside.
I slid through the crowd, silent and invisible, flowing past flailing arms and stomping boots, my form melting through the flashing lights. The demon didn’t notice me until I was upon them.
I pressed my hand on the woman’s shoulder, sending a flutter of Light—the magic that set me apart from humanity—into her. She blinked, then moved away from the threat, her gaze passing straight through the man she’d just been rubbing up against as if he’d never been there.
Once she was gone, I pulled the demon into the aura of my cloak, concealing it from the surrounding humans.
“Natural,” it hissed.
“No soul eating for you tonight,” I declared, closing my hand around its throat. “How about you and I take this outside?”
“Stupid girl. You’re going to die.”
It lunged, sending me flying back into the wall of dancers. The crowd parted, clubbers looking around to see what had pushed them out of the way.
I landed flat on my back with the creature on top of me, its hands clawing at my neck.
The moment skin touched skin, I could sense what it was. It wasn’t an Infernal—a cloudy essence possessing a human—it was something else. Something new. It was evolving to survive in a world cut off from its power source. We’d been warned about this.
Its tongue grew, as did the barbs along it, and licked towards my face. I pushed my Light into it, my free hand scrambling for my arondight blade. The creature screeched as my power burned its flesh.
Our desperate struggle was cut short as the demon burst into a fireball above me. Gasping, I covered my face with my arm as heat blasted my exposed skin.
My Light went into overdrive. I pushed off the floor, flipping to my feet. My hand closed around my sword hilt as I looked for my rescuer…or assailant—I wasn’t quite sure what I’d just walked into.
An ebb of unknown power drew my attention to a man lingering in the shadows and our gazes met.
Tall, dark, and handsome had nothing on this guy. Sharp, angled jaw, piercing eyes, shaved head, lean muscle, dressed in black…but he wasn’t a clubber. He wore jeans that were torn at the knees, battered combat boots, a tight, washed-out T-shirt, and a leather biker jacket that had seen better days. Rugged and dangerous—just how I liked my men, which made him a threat.
He lifted his finger to his lips, his eyes flashed silver as the strobe light pulsed above us.
I froze, my Light sensing the Darkness lingering just below the surface of his human exterior. It was also in that moment that I realised my cloak had failed and the entire fourth floor of Adrenaline was staring at me.
The man smirked and melted into the gap between a girl with a massive teased mohawk and a guy in black PVC pants and matching waist cincher.
I lunged after him, pushing through the humans. They shouted at me over the pounding music, but I wasn’t focused on them. A flash of tired black leather led me out the door and down the stairs. Barrelling past a swarm of startled goths, I chased my newest target through the club, ducking under outstretched arms and twisting around stomping cyber goths on yet another dance floor.
A demon killing one of its own kind? Stranger things had happened, but they rarely went down like this. I got the feeling the newcomer was helping me out, but I’d learned from an early age not to have such high hopes in people, demonic or otherwise.
I could be running into another trap, but this was too strange not to follow up.
Just as security rushed into the venue, I made it outside where I was invisible again.
I legged it down the lane, my Light propelling me over the slick cobblestones, and veered around the corner. Following the whiff of Dark, I turned left in time to catch sight of my target ducking into another lane ahead.
Chasing him, I skidded around the building. Leaping into the air, I propelled myself over the row of parked motorcycled and mopeds, grazed a spiked fence, and landed in the terrace gardens. They were locked green spaces for the private use of the people living in the posh houses either side, but tonight they were just yet another obstacle in a chase scene.
I paid no attention to the night around me as I sprinted down the path, following the demon. Ahead, he jumped into a tree, then swung from a light pole.
Preempting his next move, I sprang over the fence and pushed off the ground with a burst of Light. I flew through the air and drew my arondight blade. Landing on the roof of the terrace, my boots clattered against the old terracotta tiles.
I was in the man’s path.
I swung my sword, the blade erupting out of the hilt. Silver shards of Light sparked as it slammed into the brick chimney stack centimetres from his face. He’d barely come to a halt in time, but luckily for him, we both had a second sight for these kinds of situations.
“I’d be careful with that thing,” he said. “You could take someone’s eye out.”
They were the first words he had spoken, and his accent threw me. It was Scottish, but it wasn’t. Another twang hid in there, though I couldn’t figure it out.
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t send you back to Hell,” I demanded.
“Only one? I can give you a thousand.” He smirked.
He began to move, and I forced my blade towards his face, but he ducked, avoiding the blow too fast for my liking. I pirouetted, arcing a full three-sixty degrees, only to slam my sword on the other side of the chimney stack, blocking his path again.
“Okay, okay,” he said, holding up his hands as silver sparks danced across the roof.
“I’ve got no fight with you, Natural, but I can’t be caught here.”
I narrowed my eyes, my gaze piercing his Darkness. That’s when I saw it—something I recognised from a long time ago. I knew what to look for, because I’d had the same thing growing inside me—a mutation. “You’re not entirely Dark.”
He smirked. “Takes one to know one.”
I hesitated, and that split-second gave him an opening to strike.
He pushed me backwards with a pulse of Darkness and wrenched my blade from my hand. My boot slipped on the tiled roof and I was falling.
Air rushed past me and I let go of my Light, the burst of energy softening the blow as I landed flat on my back in the garden. My sword speared the ground next to my head, the blade imbedding so close, I felt the breeze flutter against my cheek. My heart leapt into my throat and I pushed to my feet, cursing.
Son of a…
I wrenched my arondight blade free and took off after the man. I was not letting him get away.
Human Convergence was dead. It’d ended forever the night the rift had closed. Scarlett and Wilder—the Twin Flames—had killed Mordred, the source of all demonic mutations, and we’d been cured. We’d been cured.
I jumped off the end of the row of terrace houses and landed on the footpath of Islington High Street. I stood on the corner, watching as a red double-decker bus zoomed past, and threw my hands into the air.
The man was gone.
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